In 1959, Queen Elizabeth opened the George Massey Tunnel to overwhelming support. The 629-metre long tunnel was considered an engineering marvel, and was the first rectangular reinforced concrete immersed traffic tunnel in North America and second of its kind in the world. The previous similar structure is the 1942 Maas tunnel in Rotterdam, Netherlands . Six concrete segments, each measuring 344 feet long and weighing 18,500 tons, were constructed on a dry dock, connected, sealed and sunk into place.
The George Massey Tunnel was originally a tolled crossing, with travellers paying $0.50 per trip. Tolls were removed in 1964 when the majority of the tunnel’s construction costs had been repaid. George Massey himself paid the last toll. In 1982, counterflow measures were introduced, using a reversible lane system to increase traffic flow during peak periods, which continues to operate today. Limited seismic upgrades were made in 2006, including the installation of an advanced earthquake warning system.
Building the Tunnel
Take a trip back in time and see what it took to build the George Massey Tunnel.